It's the ripple effect. A stone falls into a pond and the small waves that are generate by that single action ripple out changing everything in its path forever.
Sunday a ripple that started over 20 years ago continued as Larry The Legend aka Larry Erbach jumped into the pool at the Lifetime Fitness indoor triathlon in Algonquin.
Ripple #1- 20 plus years ago, Larry decided to train for a marathon, as he put in the hours training and eventually racing through the streets of Chicago, his then little girl Lauren (Outside The Girl Box) watched her dad and it changed her life.
Larry was never that fast, but what he lacked in speed, he made up for in positive attitude and can do spirit. The images of her father stuck in Lauren's head and motivated her to not only want to run, but to share that passion with others as well.
Ripple #2-The more she ran, the more Lauren's passion for running grew, so she joined Girls On The Run as a coach/mentor and began to share her love of the sport with hundreds of girls from the area(Why they don't hire her I'm not sure?). Now hundreds of girls are on the run, armed with the positive messages from the program as well as from watching their #1 cheerleader Lauren.
Larry's knees became too banged up to run, but the ripples were already spreading, friends, family, strangers had all been affected by his single action so many years ago.
Ripple#3- In October, Lauren sent a note to The Pace of Chicago about running the Bank Of America Chicago Marathon together. As we wound through the streets of Chicago for 6 plus hours, I learned about Girls on The Run, Larry, Lauren and their unique bond. I learned that Larry is the kind of father I want to be for my children, giving, kind and leading by example. Though he couldn't run with Lauren, he was there for her with food, hugs and a love that carried her to the finish line. Experiencing something like this changes you, it did to me.
Ripple #4- After recovering from my journey with Lauren, I wrote about it, and a guy named Dan (Cubicle Dad) read the article. Dan was so moved by Lauren's journey, that he wrote to me, asking for help. Dan was overweight, had a history of heart troubles in his family and was worried that he would never live to see his two young daughters grow up, Dan wanted to run a marathon.
Ripple #5- 6 short months after writing his letter to The Pace, Dan is 70 pounds lighter and marching towards his goal of crossing the finish line in Grant Park. His training requires, early morning runs and plenty of miles. Despite never meeting Dan, when he needed encouragement, Lauren jumped in her car and drove the 1000 plus miles from her house in the Western Suburbs to run with Dan in the city. She taught Dan her mantra "Forward Is A Pace," a little lesson she learned two decades before.
Ripple #6- A little girl watches her dad leaving the house early one Winter morning to run with a guy named Dan, that he hardly knows. Her dad is endurance sports crazy and she has watched him train for years, this time it's different. She knows he hates the cold and the icy trails, but he heads out time and time again. While he is gone on one of the runs, she flips open his computer and reads his blog, she reads about Lauren, she reads about Dan, she reads about Girls on The Run, she makes the connection. When her dad comes back from a bitter cold run, she greets him with a hug and says "I'm proud of you dad." Despite the sub-zero temperatures, her dad is filled with a warmth that is unimaginable.
Ripple #7- The "little girl," now reads Outside The Girl Box,
more than she reads The Pace of Chicago! She is signed up for Girls on
The Run and now begs her dad to go on runs with her. These runs are
the most amazing runs he has ever been on. They run, they talk, they
sing, sometimes they skip, they are not about time, they are about
enjoying every minute of the time they are together. As she gets
tired,slows down and begins to get discouraged, the dad looks down at
her and says "it's OK honey, forward is a pace."
The ripple that started 20 years ago, has hit the shore, bounced back
and returned to it's original spot. Changing everything in its path
forever. Larry is cranking away on his bike next to his little girl,
now a grown woman, despite the pain from racing, there is a huge smile
on his face.
The Legend lives on.
We are eternally grateful to Larry The Legend Erbach for jumping into
that pond so many years ago and making a positive effect in the lives
of so many different people. Because of your contribution to the world
of endurance sports we are proud to make Larry our Athlete of The Month
for May. You ain't fast and you sure as heck ain't pretty, but we
can't think of a better role model. Thank you.
Larry's time on Sunday doesn't matter, what does matter is he was
there, with his little girl, sharing something they love and hold
special(he did however beat her in the swim).